Unit 5 Analysis Pentium Flaw

Topics: Mathematics, Prime number, Summation Pages: 2 (411 words) Published: December 15, 2014
Martin P. Sarmiento Assignment Unit 5 Analysis Pentium Flaw PENTIUM FLAW
Intel’s company engineers discovered the problem in updates to the chip. However, it was not until a mathematician Thomas Nicely (of Lynchburg College in West Virginia) discovered the flaw during the summer/ fall of 1994 that it got in the news. He was computing the sum of the reciprocals of a large collection of prime numbers on his Pentium-based computer. Checking his computation, he found the result differed significantly from theoretical values. He did not get any real response to his initial queries to Intel. He then, after checking his facts, posted a general notice on the Internet asking for others to confirm his findings. Magazine and CNN interviews came thereafter.

I do not think that Intel handled the problem well. When they initially discovered the problem, they should have initiated problem announcement about it and made appropriate resolution. Also, when Nicely tried to reach them for an answer, they did not try to provide an explanation, let alone a resolution. Intel should have handled the problem first- hand and should have not waited for it to become widespread before taking any actions. Intel publicly announced that "an error is only likely to occur [about] once in nine billion random floating point divides", and that "an average spreadsheet user could encounter this subtle flaw once in every 27,000 years of use." Although they may have really intended to reassure customers that it is not a big problem, those statements seem to me that they were making an excuse and downplaying the entire situation.

“Intel's policy, when it first publicly admitted the problem around November 28 of 1994, was to replace Pentium chips only for those who could explain their need of high accuracy in complex calculations.” That initial resolution received great public disapproval. To appease the consumers, by late December, the company announced a free replacement...
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